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Respect paid to fallen soldiers

Wreaths were laid and the New Zealand flag was was at half-mast in remembrance of the 400 Defence Force personnel from the Masterton district. PHOTOS/JOHN LAZO-RON

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Close to 100 people gathered at the Wairarapa Soldiers Memorial at Queen Elizabeth Park in Masterton on Thursday to remember those who served in World War I.

To mark Armistice Day [November 11] – the anniversary of the agreement that ended WWI – Masterton war veterans, school children, and the general public commemorated the 400

Defence Force personal from the Masterton district who sacrificed their lives in wars and conflicts serving New Zealand.

In a moving service, wreaths were jointly laid at the memorial by different public figures, including Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson.

The Makoura Services Academy shared a Karakia while the war veterans laid red poppies to remember their comrades who had fallen.

Masterton RSA President Bob Hill lays a red poppy at the Armistice Day service at Queen Elizabeth Park.

Masterton RSA president Bob Hill said he was happy with the service attendance, considering Anzac Day tends to be the day when most people come out to honour those who served New Zealand in battle.

“It was fantastic to see many turn up today,” he said.

“[New Zealand] does things a little different than the northern hemisphere. Here, Anzac Day is normally the big day, but Armistice Day is really important for us here too.

“When I first came here, we never used to do it, but I changed that around because it’s all those names from [the Masterton District] on the memorial who gave their lives for us.”

War veteran Nick Tomlin, who has been living in Masterton for five years, was a commanding officer in the UK Special Forces and served in Afghanistan.

Tomlin said he lost many friends to the “ultimate sacrifice” and believes any fallen defence force personnel should never be forgotten.

“It’s really important to remember the people who served the ultimate sacrifice,” Tomlin said in regards to Armistice Day.

Both Hill and Tomlin applauded Chanel College and Makoura College for taking the time to attend the service.

“Coming out to do what they did today and what they’re achieving is going to set those boys and girls up for life,” Hill said.

Tomlin said, “Seeing young people actually turn up to honour what other young people have done before them is amazing.”

The Makoura Services Academy – a Makoura College initiative designed to prepare Year 10 and Year 12 pupils with the essential skills for a career in the New Zealand Defence Force or first response services – stood and marched in line formation at the service to honour Armistice Day.

Makoura’s Services Academy director Ben Johnstone said turning up and honouring Armistice Day was a way for them to give back to the community.

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